Archives For Sacred Harvest Festival

ATCHINGTON, Minn. — For nineteen years, Harmony Tribe has been hosting its annual Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF) in Minnesota. This year is no exception. Now located on private campgrounds in Atchington, the festival kicked off its week long event Mon, Aug 1. The day began at 3 pm with a Tribe Meeting, followed by an opening ritual called, “Together we Dream.” This year’s festival theme is “Dreams and Bones.”

Our nineteenth year is planting roots, defining and recognizing our dreams, and embracing a home for our bones.  We made the move to Northern Minnesota, helped clear the land, and built our village.  We drum and dance into the night,  create enriching rituals, and bask in our famous tribal community. This year we are free to bring our visions of the future, and bury the bones of the past. Our ancestors are watching and helping us!

Wild Hunt journalist Cara Schulz is in attendance at Sacred Harvest Festival and, using Facebook Live technology, she caught up with a number of the featured presenters to talk about their workshops and offerings at the festival.

Herbalist Kahla Wheeler-Rowan is an ordained minister and a Dianic High Priestess. Wheeler-Rowan says that she practices in the Holy Church of the Great Outdoors. She is also the director and founder of Kansas-based Prairie Wise Herbal, which is now celebrating 20th anniversary. This year at SHF, Wheeler-Rowan is offering several classes titled, “Herbal Mixology.”

Next, Schulz spoke with Emrys Anu, a long-time attendee of the festival. She is a Wiccan minister who has extensive experience volunteering in correctional facilities. Her festival workshops focus on ethics, compassion, responsibility, boundaries and value.

Sitting down with Schulz next was Sharon and Dan Stewart. Sharon is a Certified Death Midwife and longtime hospice volunteer and a trainer for NODA (No One Dies Alone). From her home Spirit Knoll in Wisconsin, Sharon, a member of Circle Sanctuary, teaches Death MidWife classes and educates people on Family Directed Funerals, Green Burials and other similar subjects. She will be sharing her knowledge and experience in a number of workshops over the week.

Sharon’s husband Dan Stewart is also teaching. He has a masters degree in counseling, and is an ordained minister, Reiki master, and certified massage therapist. Dan says that he began his journey as a healer in 1999, and he hasn’t looked back. He “seeks to help clients gain and maintain balance in all aspects of their lives.”

In her final two interviews, Schulz spoke with ritualists and authors Judy and Nels Linde. In one interview, Judy speaks specifically about their new book Taking Sacred Back, which was recently published and released by Llewellyn, Inc. She shares the history of its creation and why its important. “We had learned some stuff that other people did have to learn the hard way. We thought: let’s put it down,” Judy explains.

Part of the Lindes’ extensive experience includes being longtime, active members of Minnesota’s Pagan community. More specifically, the couple has been attending Sacred Harvest Festival for nearly all of its 19 years. Nels talked with Schulz about the event’s history and its place in the Pagan community.

Sacred Harvest Festival runs through Sunday, Aug. 7. Next year, Harmony Tribe will be celebrating the festival’s twentieth anniversary.

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Look for more “Wild Hunt Live” video interviews and live streaming in the future. 

12961669_10207514140345535_8947899318984102784_nSACRAMENTO, Calif. — It was announced that shaman and Deathwalker John Ravenmoon (1970-2016) has died from cancer. John was an initiate and brother of the Unnamed Path, a group founded by Eddie Gutierez who was better known as Hyperion. In Elemental Podcast recording #72, John shares his thoughts on Hyperion’s legacy of leadership within his local community.

John described himself as a “modern mystic.” He didn’t start his formal training in shamanism until 2000. Prior to that, John studied both massage therapy and “erotic education via the Body Electric School, which opened his eyes to the intersection of eros and spirit.” His close friend Beverly Smith said, “[John’s] early studies of the sacred body and eroticism opened a path as a Sacred Intimate. He was a trained healer and masseuse; unsurprising, considering his capacity for empathy in the depths of his great heart.”

According to Smith, John was currently studying “rootwork/conjure and Curanderismo, the healing arts of his ancestors.” Smith added, “Many will remember John for his sweet nature and kind demeanor. A friendlier or warmer person doesn’t exist. He is a constant inspiration to me. His empathy and strength helped me find my footing after losing my dear friend, Dr. E in 2014. John had the magic to make me laugh, while navigating dark waters. [He] was such an extraordinary person. We won’t see his like again.” That sentiment was echoed by many of his friends who used similar words, describing John as kind, loving, welcoming and “one of the good ones.”

In 2015, John was diagnosed with cancer, but that didn’t stop him from participating in community. Smith said, “I was thrilled to attend the Burning Man festival last year with [John]. What an experience to explore an event that was deeply spiritual and extremely important to him! Even though he was already suffering the pain and fatigue of his cancer, he enjoyed that week with enthusiasm and wonder. I feel blessed to have served with Ravenmoon as a Temple Guardian in the sacred space on the Playa in Black Rock City, NV.”

John’s cancer eventually spread to his lungs, forcing him into the hospital. In July, friends set up a YouCaring crowdfunding campaign to assist his husband Michael Shugert cover the mounting medical expenses. Then, on July 29 at 12:40 pm, John died. Smith said, “I hold his memory in the highest regard. John Ravenmoon, you are loved.” What is remembered, lives.

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pr15_069rMINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pagan Holiday Stamps? A recent blog post by Steven Posch at Witches and Pagans has had people confused. His post reads, “The Postmaster General announced today the upcoming release of a series of stamps commemorating the eight holidays celebrated by the vast majority of contemporary pagans.” The post, which allegedly quotes the Associated Press, goes on to say that the new series will begin Nov. 1 with Samhain.

While many Pagans shared the “fantastic news” over social media, the post was actually satire. Posch wrote, “I’m afraid this post is fiction,” adding that the joke was not intended to be mean-spirited. He said, “One of the dangers of being a long-term insider is the amount of presumed knowledge that one comes to take for granted. That said, the notion of the US post office having anything to do with pagan holidays seemed to me so patently absurd that it needed no further direct comment. Clearly, I was wrong on that account.”

Most of the individuals quoted within the hoax are from the Minneapolis region, and the inside joke appeared to be well-received by several members of that community. However, it did have others quite upset. One reader wrote, “I appreciate the satire, but I’m begging you to label it as such right up front.” Another said, “You should be ashamed of yourself for writing and spreading such a blatant lie to the Pagan community.” Posch apologized, but also said, “Caveat lector: let the reader beware. […] Take no one on authority; certainly not me.”

Despite the hoax, the US Postmaster has released a 2016 Halloween-themed forever stamp (pictured). For science fiction fans, look for the Star Trek series in September.

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admin-ajaxNEW ORLEANS — The pre-trial for Kenny Klein’s case was scheduled to begin today, Aug. 1 at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. According to the court docket, Klein appeared with counsel Bradley Phillips, who asked for a continuance of the pre-trial. It was granted, and the pre-trial will continue Aug. 16. The scheduled court date for the actual trial, originally set for Aug. 15, has been temporarily suspended.

In 2014, Klein was arrested and eventually charged with crimes tied to the possession of child pornography. In June, the judge denied motions to suppress evidence and statements connected with the case. Klein is presently free on $30,000 bail. The Wild Hunt will continue to follow the case.

In Other News:

  • Many Gods West , the indoor conference dedicated to polytheistic practice, begins this weekend on Aug. 5 and runs through Sunday, Aug 7. It is held annually in Olympia, Washington.
  • Sacred Harvest Festival begins today in Northern Minnesota. The annual week long camping festival is in its 19th year and its theme is “Dreams and Bones.”
  • Fans of author Alex Bledsoe will be happy to hear that his latest novel in the Tufa series will be released by Tor/Macmillan Sept. 6. This fourth book, titled Chapel of Ease, is an urban fantasy combining the mysteries of the Tufa people with the lights of New York City’s Broadway. “When Matt Johanssen, a young New York actor, auditions for ‘Chapel of Ease,’ an off-Broadway musical, he is instantly charmed by Ray Parrish, the show’s writer and composer. They soon become friends; Matt learns that Ray’s people call themselves the Tufa and that the musical is based on the history of his isolated home town.” The Tufa series, with its magic and mysteries, has inspired the music of Celtic tribal rock band Tuatha Dea
  • Max Dashu’s new book, Witches and Pagans, has been published and released by her imprint Veleda Press. According to a note for the July 30 release party, Dashu’s book “gathers together strands of folk wisdom to reweave the ripped webs of women’s culture in Europe.” The book is available at the imprint’s website, veleda.net.
  • In the blogosphere, John Becket informs us that The Savior is Not Coming. “One of the advantages of getting old is knowing what’s coming next because you’re seeing history repeat itself.”

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While attending last year’s Sacred Harvest Festival, a small Pagan festival held in Minnesota, I heard that a dreaded rumor was true. The festival had to move. The venue, a beloved place set in the midst of a Burr Oak grove, had become unfriendly toward any camping and wanted to focus on large music festivals. To say that I, and many other attendees, were unhappy is an understatement. The trees and the festival were inseparable in my mind. How could you have Sacred Harvest Festival anywhere else?

Sacred Harvest FestivalAs the months went by without an announcement of a new location, my concerns increased. Would Sacred Harvest Festival even happen? What would the new place look like? Can the festival survive a venue change?

When the new location was finally announced in spring, a place called Atchington, my apprehension only increased.

I had heard of Atchington in passing. I knew it was about 90 minutes north of the Twin Cities and was purchased in 2013 by Paul and Janette Ferrise, active members of the Twin Cities Pagan community. While I knew it was their dream to one day turn this 40 acre parcel of land into a self-sustaining retreat, it was presently just woods surrounding an open hay field. Other than their home, there were no facilities at all. There wasn’t even a road to get to the field, where I was told the festival would take place.

I considered not attending. I complained on Facebook. I pumped people for information and was told the venue was being worked on by the Ferrises and by volunteers from Harmony Tribe, the group that produces Sacred Harvest Festival. I was assured that there would be a bathroom, a place to shower, and a way to get into the open field to camp. They were working on it. No, nothing is ready yet, but they’re working on it.

I didn’t feel assured.

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[Photo: C. Schulz]

I decided to go for a long weekend instead of the entire week. I also decided to pack light because if it was miserable, I was throwing my tent back into my car and leaving. Yes, I am a delicate snowflake, and I was already biased against the place.

After attending the festival I can say that Harmony Tribe made the right decision in relocating its festival to Atchington. The amount of work already done is impressive, containing many festival venue Best Practices. The Ferrise’s future plans are equally impressive, and it’s clear they have been working with permaculture experts.

The site’s entrance is what you’d expect to find in a rural area. A long drive cut into a heavily wooded area. I could tell immediately when I got to the newly created section of dirt road, because it wasn’t as compacted as the main driveway, and it became slick after a rain. The road dumped out into the meadow, which was far smoother than I thought a converted hayfield would be. We were able to unload at our campsite and then park close by. Everything was clearly laid out with an eye to traffic flow, accessibility, and being as gentle as possible to the land.

Special Guest Kari Tauring teaches a Beginning Staving class on the hay trailer stage.

Special Guest Kari Tauring teaches a Beginning Staving class on the hay trailer stage. [Photo: C. Schulz]

We had purchased electrical and, as of two weeks ago, the electrical wasn’t laid in yet. I had been told it was very limited, but this turned out to not be correct. There was plenty of electrical for any of the 140 attendees who wanted it and then some. In talking with Paul Ferrise, he noted that this year those wanting electrical were packed in a bit tight, but next year the electrical would be extended out further in two directions. This is welcome news for those who have medical conditions requiring access to electricity, but who still would like to attend a camping festival.

The very next thing that I noticed (I drank two Coke Zeros on the drive to the festival) was the portapotties. Two of them were pink and were reserved just for women. They didn’t have the urinal in them and had a hook to hold your purse or bag on the inside. I appreciate having separate women and men’s portas. Let’s just keep our disgusting stuff separate, shall we?

All portas had an LED light in them, a huge upgrade from any other Pagan festival I’ve attended. Just having a built in overhead LED light for night time use kept the portas so much cleaner.

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Drinking water tanks in the foreground, showers in the white tent, dish washing station and trash/recycling in front.

The portas were located near the showers. Showers are usually cringe-worthy at camping festivals, but these were another pleasant surprise. The two stalls were built up on wood platforms, one with a ramp for accessibility while the other had stairs. The showers had hot water on demand systems, and the grey water was collected in tanks underneath. There was plenty of room to shower, dress, and move around. In fact, they were downright spacious. Dr. Bronner’s body and hair wash, which is very earth friendly, was provided, and we all got to experience the joy of having our hoo-hoo tingle.

Harmony Tribe members say that the showers were a late addition, and the original plan was much more modest. Two showers for 140 attendees was about right. There was rarely a line, nor did you have to pay for them. Ferrise said that more showers, with a slightly different design, will be added before next year’s Sacred Harvest Festival.

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Sacred Harvest Festival attendee washes breakfast dishes

On the other side of the showers were tanks for filtered drinking water and a sink station for washing hands or dishes. It had a nice long counter-top where many attendees brought items to wash and dry. The drinking water was just what you’d find from a home tap, so next year attendees won’t feel the the need to bring bottled water. Because the tanks formerly held raspberries, the water had a slight raspberry flavor. I considered that a bonus.

Atchington appears to have solved one problem that plagues most Pagan events: how to get people to properly recycle. They did so in the easiest, most straightforward way. Several barrels set up with signs on them that list what can be thrown in each barrel. Genius. There was a barrel for food scraps, one for aluminum cans, one for plastic bottles, one for paper, and another for trash. They were emptied each evening. No more guessing what goes in the single recycle bin and what goes in the trash bin.

I looked in the bins periodically to see if people were following the rules and each time I looked, everything was thrown in the appropriate barrel. It appears that clear labels and easy access to proper disposal places are all it takes to make recycling and composting work at a festival. I’m wondering how this will scale up to larger events.

There were other nice touches at the venue, such as Paul driving attendees into town once a day to go to the grocery store; unlimited firewood for personal campfires; and the Tree of Life with accompanying permanent shrine. You could see the Ferrises were serious about living the Pagan ethics of caring for the earth and providing thoughtful hospitality for their guests. Planned upgrades include a storm shelter, gardens, and a place for musical performances.

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Paul Ferrise said that he knew this was the land they would buy once he saw the Tree of Life on the property. They then built a shrine in front of it. [Photo: C. Schulz]

The Ferrises have worked hard to create good relations with their neighbors and to include county officials in their plans. The Ferrises said that the officials that they’ve worked with have been extremely helpful and very open to what they’re trying to accomplish. Their neighbors are excited and supportive of the permaculture ideas the Ferrises are putting into place, and so far haven’t had a problem with late night drumming.

Atchington's vision of a sustainable retreat utilizes permaculture techniques

Atchington’s vision of a sustainable retreat utilizes permaculture techniques [Courtesy Photos]

The festival site itself is located in a large, cleared field and most attendees, like myself, camped in full sun; or full rain depending on the weather. If it hadn’t been so temperate, that could have created problems for some people. By which, I really mean me, and I did feel a bit under the weather after one 80 degree sunny day. There was some shaded camping in the tree lines, but those sites went pretty quick.

Paul said next year’s plans include clearing out some of the underbrush in the woods to provide more shaded camping and cutting a trail so attendees can enjoy the creek that runs through their property. The field was fairly smooth, but there were odd holes and ruts so you needed to watch your step when walking around. A few days and nights of heavy rain left standing puddles of water. However, it was less muddy than I thought a field would end up, so drainage doesn’t appear to be a problem. In addition, the new road had to be worked on after storms went through Thursday night.

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(left)The Hearth Chakra is where the main community fire and drum circle takes place. (right) Tents dot the treeline [Photos: C. Schulz]

All in all, both Harmony Tribe and the owners of Atchington appear to be a good match for one another. Both are willing to work hard to create a wonderful, uniquely Pagan space to hold festivals. And, both were willing to put in a considerable amount of money to make this happen. Harmony Tribe paid for two years in advance, while the Ferrises turned a 5-year plan into a one year reality.

Other festivals and events have already booked space at Atchington, and now that I’ve been there, I can see why. It’s a beautiful property with dedicated and friendly owners who are willing to get their hands dirty and who appear to have the skills needed to do much of the work themselves. I’m very excited about attending Sacred Harvest Festival next year and can’t wait to see all the new changes happening at Atchington.

RobertRudachukHeathen Robert Rudachyk has announced his candidacy for Canada’s Liberal Party of Saskatchewon. Rudachyk ran in 2014 and, in an interview with The Wild Hunt, talked about his goals and his work as an openly Heathen candidate.

He said,If I am able to become the candidate, I intend to run my campaign on the issues facing all Canadians, not on my faith. I will never hide who I am, but I will also not whip my hammer out in public and shove it into people’s faces.”

This year, Rudachyk is running “to be elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly ( MLA) for this seat or district as you might call it. It is for the provincial government of Saskatchewan It is essentially the provincial parliament.” The campaign was just announced, and we will have more from Rudachyk in the weeks to come. The election itself will be held in April 2016.

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Sabina Magliocco at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. (Photo: Tony Mierzwicki)

(Photo: T. Mierzwicki)

On July 17, Professor Sabina Magliocco created a new survey for an independent study on fairy legends in the Pagan community. Magliocco is a professor of Anthropology at California State University – Northridge. Her online survey was titled “Fairies in Contemporary Paganism.” She wrote, “I’m interested in your legends, experiences and beliefs surrounding the fairies, fae, sidhe, Fair Folk, pixies, trolls, and similar creatures from any cultural tradition. What are they? Do you work with them in your spiritual practice? What is their role in the world today?”

Within one week, Prof. Magliocco received over 500 responses, far exceeding the allowances of the technology used. She announced the survey’s closing and began compiling the data. Although the work has only begun, she offered this quick assessment: “a majority of respondents believe fairies are real and associate them with the natural world. Nonetheless, fairies are not central to the majority of respondents’ religious practice — but a substantial number of respondents do interact with them, mostly by making offerings.” The full results will be presented at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies, held in Claremont, California in January 23-24, 2016

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Many Gods West Facebook Photo

Coming up this weekend is the brand new conference, Many Gods West. As noted on the event website, it is “meant to be a celebration of [many] traditions, those newly-reconstructed and those continuously-practiced. There are many gods in the world, and many peoples worshiping them.”

Held at The Governor Hotel in downtown Olympia, Washington, Many Gods West will feature three days of workshops, lectures, rituals and more. The keynote address will be delivered by Priest and Author Morpheus Ravenna on Friday at 7:00pm. Rituals include the Bakcheion (Βακχεῖον)’s “Filled with Frenzy,” Coru Cathubodua’s “Devotional to Cathobodua,” and Viducus Brigantici, Filius’ “Kalends Ritual” and more. Many Gods West opens for the very first time on Friday, July 31 and runs to Sunday, Aug 2.

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HUAR Logo

Over the past few months, there have been some changes to the group Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR). According to various sources, the group experienced internal conflict in June, which led to a split between the various moderators, organizers and facilitators. The disagreements were centered around internal operations and structure.

HUAR is currently still in operation and slowly re-building. In a recent post, The HUAR Team wrote, “We have undergone some recent internal reorganization to be more effective in accomplishing our goals of opposing racism and co-optation of Heathenry by racialist groups and organizations. We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons from the mistakes of the past few years and are working to be more effective now and going forward.” *

In addition, a new group has formed called Heathens For Social Justice (HFSJ), which was created after the June events. HFSJ is run by nine democratically-elected board members. They describe the group as a “safe space” and as being “committed to fighting all oppressions, wherever [they] find them, in service to both [the] heathen community and [their] local, regional and national communities.” Organizers added, “We are about action, not platitudes.”

While the two groups do have some crossover in purpose and goals, their focuses do appear to be slightly different. We will continue to report on both groups as they continue or begin their advocacy and work.

In Other News

  • The Sacred Harvest Festival is about to kick-off its eighteenth year at its brand new location in Northern Minnesota. The festival will be held at Atchingtan in Finlayson,MN, which is 90 minutes north of St. Paul. As always, the scheduled is packed with rituals, drumming, workshops and other events. The guest speaker will be Shaman Joy Wedmedyk. PNC-Minnesota has recently published an interview with Wedmedyk, in which she says, “I want the people who attend to know the reason I teach is because I want people to have as much information as possible to be able to move forward spiritually and to know prosperity and abundance in all levels of their life. I love to encourage people to develop their own skill set, and perhaps offer them a different perspective about a practice they may already be doing.” Sacred Harvest Festival begins on Monday, August 3 and runs through Aug. 9.
  • Mills College Student and co-founder of the Pagan Alliance Kristen Oliver has been selected as a Chapel Programs Assistant. Oliver said, “I will be working for the interim Multifaith Chaplain and Director of Spiritual and Religious Life (SRL). I will be doing things like managing SRL’s Facebook page, helping to organize and lead activities and events like the school’s multifaith Festival of Light and Dark which happens in December, and being available to students who have spiritual/religious queries.” Oliver added that she “continues to be impressed” by the school’s support of the Pagan Alliance and Pagan students.
  • As we reported last week, Starhawk has ventured into self-publishing for The City of Refuge, the sequel to her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing. To accomplish this task, she will be opening a Kick Starter Campaign to pay for various aspects of the process. The campaign will begin on July 31, as suggested by Starhawk’s favorite astrologer. As she writes, “It’s also the eve of Lammas or Lughnasad, August 1, one of the eight great festivals of the Celtic and Pagan year.” 
  • EarthSpirit co-founder Andras Corban-Arthen was invited to sit on a panel called the “Indigenous Leadership Talk Issues and Innovation” at the Nexus Global Youth Summit, held at The United Nations. The other panel participants included “Abhayam Kalu Ugwuomo, Chief Kalu Ugwuomo, Tonatiuh Cervantes, Aina Olomo, Ricardo Cervantes, Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk.”
[Courtesy Photo]

[Courtesy Photo]

  • Ivo Dominguez, Jr will be hosting a new workshop in Delaware to be taught by Byron Ballard. Held on Aug. 29, the workshop, called “Old Wild Magic of the Motherlands,” will be based Ballard’s new research on Appalachian traditions. Ballard’s work is focused on the magical traditions and cultures of her home in the mountains of the Appalachian region. For her next book, she has been studying the various customs that came over from the British Isles. Ballard notes, “The charms, spells and talismans that crossed with those ragged immigrants from Scotland, Northumberland, Cornwall and Cumbria are little known and very interesting. Weather workings, healing charms, curses and blessings–all handed down to us from a by-gone age.” The new workshop will present her findings and will be held in Georgetown, Delaware on Aug. 29.

That is it for now! Have a great day.

Festival season is now underway as the wheel turns and the weather continues to get warmer. Pagan and Heathen communities around the country are stepping outside for daylong, weekend long and even weeklong adventures and community-building. While the early festivals focus on a re-connection to the outdoors after months of cold weather; the midsummer events celebrate the high season of long days and hot sun; and the fall festivals welcome the harvest.

Drummer's Altar at Phoenix Phyre [Photo Credit: Lisa Perez Darmana]

Drummer’s Altar at Phoenix Phyre [Photo Credit: Lisa Perez Darmana]

Although festival season begins in earnest in May for most of the country, the state of Florida gets an early start due to its climate. Leading off in March are festivals such as the newly created Equinox in the Oaks, held near Ormond Beach, and Phoenix Phyre, held in Lakeland. Florida’s warm temperatures and sea breezes allow for comfortable camping in early Spring.

As the Florida festival season continues, other areas of the country join the fun as the warmer temperatures slowly move north. States in the Southeast begin to see festivals in April. These include daylong events, such as the Atlanta Marketplace of Ideas, in Georgia, or longer camping events, such as ADF-sponsored Trillium Spring Gathering in Virginia. The Washington-based Aquarian Tabernacle Church holds its Spring Mysteries festival at this time. While it is run similar to a festival, Spring Mysteries is mostly held indoors due to the weather.

As April turns into May, festival season truly takes-off across the country. Whether it’s Beltane, May Day or another reason entirely, the first weekend in May seduces people into coming outside and connecting to nature and to their communities. As explained by the Beltane Fire Society, based in Scotland, “the growing power of the sun … provides an opportunity to cleanse and renew the conditions of a community – both humans and their animals – that had spent the dark months indoors.” Since 1988, the society has hosted its annual Beltane Fire Festival on this weekend, as a marker of community-building in that region.

Here in the United States and Canada, the beginning of May sees an extraordinary number of festivals, both big and small; ranging from local celebrations hosted by individual covens to bigger region-wide events. Many of these early May festivals are Beltane-inspired. In Pittsburgh, for example, Grove of Gaia hosts a daylong festival called Grove of Gaia Fest. This year’s event attracted over 400 attendees, hailing from many religious practices. Further south, Florida Pagan Gathering, run by the Temple of Earth Gathering (TEG), holds its weekend long Beltane festival; in Connecticut, the Panthean Temple runs Beltane: Pagan Odyssey Festival; and, in Colorado, Living Earth Church hosts Beltania: a Pagan Celebration and Musical Festival.

There are also many non-Beltane events during May. These fesivals simply encourage people to get outside and come together in community. The Bay Area Pagan Alliance rebooted its popular, daylong spring festival this year. Over Memorial Day weekend, many people head to Kansas for the Heartland Pagan Festival; while in Massachusetts, Earth Spirit Community celebrates the Rites of Spring. During May, Southern Pagans and Heathens drive through the Tennessee mountains to attend Pagan Unity Festival. During this year’s event, Tuatha Dea ran its group drumming workshop. After a rousing grand finale, Danny Mullikan said to the group of drummers sitting in a circle around him, “You all were just communicating. That is community.”

As spring moves into summer and the days get warmer, the population of festivals increase. June sees as many events as March, April and May put together. The biggest, and arguably most well-known, festival is Pagan Spirit Gathering in Illinois, sponsored by Circle Sanctuary. Beginning in 1980, PSG attracts over a thousand attendees and hosts over 400 events. As Circle Magazine editor Florence Edwards-Miller said, “Like Brigadoon appearing from the mists, Pagan Spirit Gathering is essentially a bustling Pagan town that manifests the week of the Summer Solstice every year.” This year’s PSG marks its 35th anniversary.

[Photo Credit: S. Fox]

PSG 2014 [Photo Credit: S. Fox]

Nearly as old as PSG is Canada’s WiccanFest in Ontario. Despite its name, the popular five-day festival is open to all Pagans and Heathens. Canada also sees the Sun Wheel Music and Arts Festival held in Alberta near the end of the June. And, it is impossible to talk about Canada’s spring events without mentioning the biggest one: Gaia Gathering. Held annually over Victoria’s Day Weekend in May, this event is actually an indoor conference that changes cities each year and attracts attendees from around the country. Gaia Gathering’s mission is to bring people “together to talk about who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we might be going as a religious community in Canada.”

Other popular events in June, include the two-day St. Louis Pagan Picnic, now in its 23rd year; Wisteria’s Summer Solstice retreat; Free Spirit Gathering, Michigan Pagan Fest and EarthHouse’s Midsummer Gathering. The Troth holds its own national event in June called TrothMoot. This year’s four-day festival will be held at Camp Netimus in Milford, Pennsylvania. Next year, TrothMoot will be on the West Coast. Additionally, for Heathens, the Volkshof Kindred sponsors the four-day Northern Folk Gathering in Minnesota.

New to this year’s June festival season is Pan Gaia in California. Sponsored by the North Western Circles Association, the festival will take its “maiden voyage June 20.” Organizers describe it as, “a delightful event of vendors, performers, and presenters distilled down from the best of the best of magical festivals over the past 15 years.” The two-day festival will be held in Fair Oaks, California, and will feature vendors, workshops and a Jim Morrison ritual by Patheos editor Jason Mankey.

The endless opportunities to be outdoors celebrating with fellow Pagans and Heathens continue throughout the summer months. In July, for example, there is Kaleidoscope Gathering; Free Witchcamp; Sankofa Festival; Chrysalis Moon, and Sirius Rising. Wisconsin sees a nine-day Summerland Spirit Festival, described as an “Earth-reverent spiritual retreat where you can experience personal growth, connect with nature and make new friends. And, in Ohio, the long-running Starwood Festival, which began in 1981, kicks off its seven day extravaganza of music, vendors, workshops and more.

In August, there is Pan Fest in Alberta, DragonFest in Colorado, Festival of the Midnight Flame in Michigan and Coph Nia in Pennsylvania. At this point in the year, the festivals begin to take on a harvest theme, such as Harvest Gathering, hosted by the Connecticut Wiccan and Pagan Network, or Sacred Harvest Festival, hosted by Harmony Tribe in Minnesota. Additionally, one of the longest running Pagan events occurs in August. Now in its 39th year, Pan Pagan Fest, sponsored by the Midwest Pagan Council, is held in Monterey, Indiana and this year’s five day festival theme is “Open Spirits, Open Hearts.”

By August, the schedule begins to shift, providing a array of new community opportunities. The Pride season begins in many areas as the longer festivals disappear. Additionally, this is the month that Covenant of the Goddess hosts Merry Meet, its annual meeting and conference. Over its many years, Merry Meet has been both an outdoor festival and an indoor conference. And, finally, this year marks the launch of a new indoor conference, Many Gods West, to be held in Washington. It is one of the few indoor summer events.

Regardless, the U.S. and Canadian festival seasons wind down quickly in September as the focus turns to Pagan Pride Days, Witches Balls and other autumn fun. However, there are still a few remaining festivals left for those who cannot get enough of camping. Lightening Across the Plains, the biggest Heathen-focused event, is hosted in September and held at Gaea Retreat outside of Kansas City. Dubbed a “regional Midwest thing,” the four-day festival includes “Asatru and Craft workshops, Viking Games, a Heathen auction” and much more.

Tuatha Dea leads Community Drum Workshop at PUF 2015 [Credit: H. Greene]

Tuatha Dea leads Community Drum Workshop at PUF 2015 [Credit: H. Greene]

Many of the groups that sponsor early spring events also host autumn events. In September, Wisteria invites guests to attend a four-day festival called Autumn Fires. Earth Spirit Community holds an October retreat called Twilight Covening. In Canada, the WiccanFest organizers stage a second festival called Autumn Fest. And, Phoenix Festivals, Inc. hosts Autumn Meet in Lakeland, Florida. Then, finally, in November, TEG hosts a second Florida Pagan Gathering to close out the year.

It is not surprising that Florida, and other southern regions begin and end the festival season. This cycle is wave of warm-weather fun that migrates just like birds. Of course, the many festivals listed above are only a small sampling of what is actually available every year across the country. There are floating festivals, like Hawkfest, and outdoor intensive retreats, such as Reclaiming’s Witchcamp, that appear in multiple places across the country at different times. In 2016, there are already new festivals scheduled, such as the Dragon Hills Pagan Music Festival to be held in May in Bowden, Georgia.

Additionally, there are many smaller very local and private festivals and outdoor events during the entire season. Together with the winter conferences, the Balls, the Moots, the Picnics, the many Pagan Pride days, the year is filled with opportunities to connect to community, find inspiration, enjoy creativity, shop or just kick-back within spaces dedicated to the Pagan, Heathen, Polytheist religious cultures.

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. Our hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

harmoney tribe

On Jan. 2, Harmony Tribe announced that it has found a new location for its popular Sacred Harvest Festival. As we reported last August, the festival was forced to move from Harmony Park, which it had called home for 17 years, due to zoning restrictions. At the time, organizers still hadn’t found a new location for the beloved festival.

While Friday’s announcement did not give the name of the new location, it did say, “Plans are being finalized for the upper Midwest’s largest Pagan festival to land at a developing site about 90 minutes North of the Twin Cities Metro area.” Harmony Tribe is calling this year’s event a “rebirth” and promises that there will be plenty of camping and no noise restrictions at the new site. The dates are set for Aug. 3-9, 2015.

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Author and artist Lupa Greenwolf has announced the production of a new divination set titled “Tarot of Bones.” Greenwolf writes on her newly launched website, “Divination with cast or fire-cracked bones is an ancient art, stretching back thousands of years into our history; its younger cousin, the tarot, enjoys greater popularity than ever.The Tarot of Bones is an ambitious project combining the nature-inspired symbolism of animal bones with the tarot’s well-loved archetypes to create an unparalleled divination set for the 21st century”

Greenwolf has just begun creating the concept art for the new deck and will be updating her progress on her new blog. She believes that the deck will be finished by spring. When it is, Greenwolf has promised the The Wild Hunt an exclusive interview to discuss the nature and spirit behind the deck, as well as the journey of creating it.

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Rev. Dave Sassman was recently selected to be a board member of Indy Vet House, Inc. This charitable organization raises funds for the Indianapolis-based Veterans House, “a home away from home for veterans receiving extended medical care.” Although Sassman said that the decision “had been in the works for while,” it has just become official.

In his own announcement, Sassman enthusiastically proclaimed, “a Pagan on the Board of Directors.” When asked about the position, Sassman told The Wild Hunt,It is important for Pagans to get involved in their local (mundane) communities to shine a positive light on our faith and help to change the negative impression we as a community have experienced in the past.” Sassman is an openly Pagan, Air Force Veteran and a member of Circle Sanctuary’s Military Ministry.

In Other News:

Noot Seear at The Bartzebel Working.

Noot Seear at The Bartzebel Working

  • On the Earth Spirit Voices blog, Andras Corban-Arthen has published a report and commentary on his experiences being involved with the 2014 People’s Climate March and the “Religions for the Earth Conference, held at Union Theological Seminary.” Both events occurred in New York during the fall equinox weekend, and both had similar goals of raising the volume on climate change conversations.
  • Finally, January 4 marked Doreen Valiente’s birthday.

That is it for now! Have a great day.

Harmony Tribe, the group that produces Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF), a Pagan camping festival held in SE Minnesota, celebrated its 17th year last week. While the festival has experienced ups and downs over the years, most recently a new campground zoning restriction limiting night time drumming, it now faces the challenge of finding a new location.

The Harmony Tribe stewards announced at this year’s festival that it was the last time the event would be held at Harmony Park. They also said that they had not yet secured a place to hold the festival next year.*

The campground, which has hosted the festival for all 17 years, is a favorite with attendees. It’s small, private layout combined with a full grove of Burr oak trees gave the festival an intimate feeling and helped attendees connect with nature and one another. “I’ve loved the serenity and privacy of Harmony Park,” says festival attendee Traci Amberbride, “the way the weather seems to be held somewhat at bay, the shade of the trees, the dappled sunlight coming through. Watching the sunrise of the lake and set beyond the parking field. I love the flow of the park and the ability to determine how in the middle of things you want to be.”

The announcement was met with a range of emotions. Heather Biedermann, who has attended the festival since 2007, said she was heartbroken at hearing the festival would no longer be at Harmony Park, “The oak trees have always felt like home to me. However, I understand that with the changes that were happening at Harmony Park, it just wouldn’t be right to stay either.”

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Sacred Harvest Festival 2013 [Photo credit: Teo Bishop]

Some of the changes included the noise restrictions which took effect in 2011. This meant drumming ended at 10pm on weekdays and 1am on weeknights. This year, attendees could no longer drive vehicles into the park to load and unload their camp gear while campers and RVs had to park in the treeline just outside the park.

Harmony Tribe member Tasha Rose says Sacred Harvest Festival was treated differently by the campground owner than the camp’s larger music festivals. She says,”I honestly saw it coming. It sort of felt like a slow pushing out by [the owner] Jay. We have such a positive impact on the land there and have had one obstacle after another thrown at us for the past few years, while large events that disrupt the environment are allowed to continue doing their thing.”

Rachael, one of the Harmony Tribe Stewards responsible for helping produce SHF, says, “The decision to move was a series of factors including the limits placed on us by the sound curfew, the limited access to the park, and the camping restrictions for RVs. We have many who attend our fest who are mobility impaired or have small children, so limiting where we could go and how we get our things into our space was difficult to work within those confines.” She noted they are a community who drums into the night as part of their spiritual experience and said the drumming curfew has detracted from the festival experience.

Moving a festival location is not without risks. Author and SHF presenter Crystal Blanton says changing venues is challenging for any festival, “I anticipate that SHF might lose some of it’s regular festival goers but will gain some more in other area. I think it is a chance to shake things up and grow in the process, but it is always sad to see people leave the community after large change. It is to be expected though.”

There is an additional layer of risk in announcing a festival is changing location before securing the next venue. “Being an event planner, I know that not having a secured place to host even a year out is not ideal in the least,” says Tasha. She says her family doesn’t have plans to return to SHF with the move.

[Festival Theme Art 2014 by Judith Olson]

[Festival Theme Art 2014 by Judith Olson]

Heather says her major concern is that the festival will take a year off while they search for a new location, “What that usually means to me is that the festival won’t happen again. I sincerely hope that wherever Harmony Tribe decides to go, it will be a positive, growing change for the better.” She says she plans to attend the festival next year, although location and dates may affect that decision.

Traci is more optimistic about the venue search, but knows it won’t be an easy task. “As sad as leaving the Oaks is, I think this is a change for the better. Everything has a cycle, and there have been many changes in the last several years within Harmony Tribe. It’s time for a new birth and beginning. To reestablish what this community is and to whom it is important. I’m excited about the possibilities a new beginning brings.”

Moving a Pagan festival is more challenging than moving other types of camping festivals. In addition to a venue which allows late night drumming, there are other needs and wants particular to Pagan festivals, such as privacy and nudity. Rachael says the Harmony Tribe board is weighing all the criteria and asking for community input, “We put it out into the community to tell us what they need and got a lot of responses. The most popular responses to that question were showers, communal campfires, RV parking, shade, and privacy. The responses that were given as wants were a swimming place and a playground. The places that we’ve seen have great amenities, but where you get a little more, you have to give a little more.” She says attendees are encouraged to fill out the festival feedback form located here.

There are non-tangible criteria as well. Crystal Blanton isn’t just a presenter, she’s also an attendee. She has flown from California with her family multiple times to attend SHF because of its importance to her spiritual and emotional well-being, “The supportive, loving and family atmosphere is very important to me personally, and my desire to expose my children to other Pagan families. This particular festival has something very special it offers to my family – the ability to come and be a part of a community that embraces our diversity and supports our collective needs.”

Tasha, who has attended the festival for ten years and whose husband has attended all 17 years agrees that SHF plays a large role in her spiritual life, “The grove and the people who live in it for the week of SHF are all a part of who I am.” She says the festival is also important for her children to experience Pagan culture, “I go because my children get to have time with other children in their own culture. They don’t really have that in our day to day aside from their siblings. Without this festival in that Grove, we won’t have what we have come to need in our spiritual family life, and I am sad about that.” But she says it feels like it’s time to move on and create that culture with new people in new places.

“This Festival is very important to my spiritual health and my family’s,” says Traci. “We have grown, experienced, and learned so much from both the Tribe and the presenters. My children have made lasting bonds, as have Jackie and I. We live in a small, rural community and aren’t always able to find time to commune with our spiritual/religious community. This is a big chunk for us.”

The search continues to find a new home for the Sacred Harvest Festival. Only time will tell if this is the end or the rebirth of a much loved part of upper Midwest Pagans’ spiritual lives.

“We will do our best to continue to meet the needs of the community,” Rachael says. “There is no place like the grove, but we are going to find some place that gives us a new home with the same or better festival experience.”

* [Harmony Tribe and Harmony Park have no formal relationship and were named independently of one another]

When the Sacred Harvest Festival was finished, the first thing I noticed while wandering through the airport was how strange it was that nobody was in a sarong. Or naked. Or drumming. It was a shock to my system, all these pants and suits.

Even the babies drum at Sacred Harvest Festival.

Even the babies drum at Sacred Harvest Festival. Photo by Nels Linde.

Pagan culture is sensory, and visceral, and delightfully messy. Meeting times are announced with music, worship is celebrated with movement, and the body is displayed as a sign of reverence, an act of liberation, and an expression of joy. Spend a week in the woods with a parley of Pagans and you start to believe that this is how the world actually is.

It was the ordinary aspects of the Sacred Harvest Festival that charmed me the most. The ever-present hospitality from the festival presenters made me feel at home from the moment I arrived, and I was never without a plate of food or a cup of some fine beverage in my hand. I was greeted with kindness, curiosity, and excitement, and I had the distinct feeling that I was welcome and wanted. There was a keen sense of fellowship at this gathering from all directions, and it wasn’t just “Minnesota nice” either. It felt completely genuine, and without pretense.

While ritual plays an important part in the festival, it was the post-ritual drumming and fire-dancing that seemed to attract a great deal of engagement from the festival attendees. In conversation with Kenny Klein, another of the featured national guests, I learned that this shift of emphasis away from ritual and more toward drumming and dancing is becoming more common at Pagan gatherings across the country, which leads me to wonder if the conversations about praxis v.s. belief that periodically dominate the Pagan blogosphere are actually representative of what is happening within the Pagan community.

To know the Pagan community primarily through the internet is to miss out on a great deal of nuance and subtlety. Our digital text lacks the contours of our faces, the undertones of fragrance and sound that are present when we gather in the flesh. Pagans make interesting noises. We say things that make your head cock a little to the side. We have a way of combining sacred symbolism with the sardonic that can infuriate the pious and delight the irreverent. We are a fascinating mixture of the holy and the profane, sometimes flipping either definition on its head. And I love that about us.

This all only became clear by being at a festival for a full seven days. Immersion is the best way to learn a new language, and immersive Paganism is no different. Share a meal with someone from a different tradition and you’ll come to know the myriad of ways that you mirror one another. Pass a horn in person to someone who, online, you regularly disagree with and you just might begin forging a real and meaningful friendship in spite of your differences. I didn’t realize this before, but most of my interactions with Pagans have been lacking the very embodiment that so many of our theologies hold dear.

Pagan festivals are staging grounds for transformation, should one wish to engage that deeply. When done well, they foster a safe space to learn, to practice, to rejoice, to inspect, and to play. Sacred Harvest Festival provided this to me, and to many of those who joined me in workshops or at rituals. During my unPaganism workshop we broke apart our assumptions about what it means to be a Pagan. We talked about our Euro-centric tendencies, our assumptions about ritual, and even began to examine our own susceptibility to the us/them dynamics that plague other religious communities. We did this with grace, with kindness, and with an inquiry that I found to be quite refreshing.

A youth workshop with Teo Bishop. Photo by Nels Linde.

A youth workshop with Teo Bishop. Photo by Nels Linde.

There were others in attendance at the festival who had a challenging time feeling included by a community that feels so inclusive otherwise. The festival is in its 16th year, and there are many young people who have been coming to this gathering for their entire lives. I led a workshop for the youth, and found myself in conversation with them about their hopes for the festival and their desire for more youth-centered activities. They told me about a schism which took place in the community a few years back, and how before that time there was an entire portion of the festival grounds reserved exclusively for the youth. This “Youth Camp” provided kids the opportunity to camp away from their parents and to build a culture of their own. It was a cherished experience, and one that the Harmony Tribe youth miss very much.

In the grand scheme of things, our communities are young. Even those among us who reach back into the archives of history in search of an example are still a part of a relatively new community of religious practitioners. Our polytheist, or monist, or dualistic monotheist expressions are a mashup of the old and the new, and it is during events like Sacred Harvest Festival that we create the opportunities to re-examine our own definitions. We get a chance to look at what a Druid is, or a Witch, or a Hellenic, or a Hawaiian. Our skyclad dancing becomes a lovely metaphor: we show ourselves to one another; we allow ourselves to be seen, to be heard, to be known.

Festival culture is a petri dish, and the culture of a festival is enhanced and affected by each of the attendees. Sacred Harvest Festival feels very Wiccan-centric to a Druid who’s spent the past several years in community with reconstructionists, but this is not inherently a bad thing. My friend, Lamyka (Lahela MP Nihipali) reminded me during our unPaganism discussion that a core, central Pagan value — perhaps the most important one for us to remember — is pluralism. We need not forfeit our individual cultural traditions in order to take part in the greater Pagan community. We need not all become one thing in order to get along.

During this week in the woods I witnessed reconstructionists politely declining attendance at pan-Pagan rituals, siting religious reasons, and then I watched those same people engage in a different syncretic ritual because they found room within that particular ritual for their own cultural and religious interpretation. They found a way to both honor their own values and practices and observe a communal experience of celebration.

I find this flexibility to be a sign of great maturity, and an indication that the Pagan community has a bright future yet. If one among us can maintain her own sense of religious and cultural boundaries while still engaging in close, intimate contact with those of a very different perspective then there is evidence that we are not completely lost. We are not destitute, or fracturing beyond repair. We are not, as some blogging wars would have you believe, on the verge of meaninglessness.

Ritual Space at Sacred Harvest Festival. Photo by Mike Bardon.

Ritual Space at Sacred Harvest Festival. Photo by Mike Bardon.

We are young. We are learning. We are, should we wish to be, capable of great things. We offer generously of ourselves. We demonstrate hospitality in the most remarkable ways. We love and honor our Gods, and we do our best to love and honor each other.

This is what I witnessed at Sacred Harvest Festival. This is what gives me hope about moving forward as a contemplative Pagan, a bard, and a perpetual seeker.

King Arthur vs. Archeology: British Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (no, not that Arthur Pendragon) has failed in his attempt to force reburial of human remains found at Stonehenge, claiming the 5000-year-old cremated remains were of a royal “priest caste,” potential founding fathers of Britain.

Stonehenge

“Mr Justice Wyn Williams refused to give King Arthur permission to launch a judicial review action – ruling at a High Court hearing in London that there was insufficient evidence to show that the Ministry of Justice might have acted unreasonably. The judge heard that the cremated remains of more than 40 bodies – thought to be at least 5,000 years old – were removed from a burial site at Stonehenge in 2008 and ministers gave researchers from Sheffield University permission to keep the bones until 2015.”

While King Arthur was calling for a “day of action” to protest this decision, another group, Pagans For Archaeology, were pleased that scientific exploration of the remains will continue uninterrupted.

“The very reason we know what we do about Stonehenge and the people buried there is due to archaeology, without it you would know naff all about it, the people and the relationship between the two.”

At their website, PFA makes their case for why the retention and study of human remains is important. As for King Arthur, he insists that this “is not a Pagan argument, it is not a Druid argument. It is a matter of common decency.” Stonhenge is matter of great emotional, religious, and psychological import for many Britons. With the London 2012 Olympics fast approaching, you can be sure that the treatment, preservation, and study of this site will continue to be a newsmaking issue.

Maetreum of Cybele Sends Out a Call for Help: The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, in an ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, New York, have sent out an urgent plea for funds as what they hope will be the final trial in the matter approaches.

“All along the Town knew they would lose this battle if we could just get it to trial so they have attempted to bury us under legal motions to break us financially and have spent somewhere between 100 to 150 thousand dollars to do so.  I am sad to report that unless we get significant help in this final stages, they might succeed.  Donations so far have helped but we have had to hire a new attorney at about three times the cost as our original attorney.  She is much more experienced and worth the expense but has informed me that the rest of our case will cost us an approximate additional 10 thousand dollars which simply is impossible for us to come up with ourselves at this stage.

Our priestesses have stepped forward to the point of tens of thousands so far but now we are all broke.  Please, this case is important, a milestone for minority religion rights.  If this can be done to us, a legally incorporated religious charitable organization with full IRS 501 c3 recognition, it literally can be done to any minority religious group.  A victory, which is fairly well assured if we can finish the battle, is especially important when political groups are pushing back against non Christians, clean air and water and the basic concept of taking care of each other and our common planet home.”

The law in this case seems pretty clearly on the side of the Maetreum of Cybele, but Catskill is going to wage a scorched earth legal campaign in hopes the Pagans run out of money and energy first, stating that the town was already too deep into the case to give up and that significant dollars could be saved by preventing exemptions for illegitimate religions.” A court date is set for November 15th. We’ll keep you updated on further developments. For those wanting to an make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so directly via paypal to: centralhouse@gallae.com. Or you can contact them through their website.

In Other News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note series, more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Vivianne Crowley joins Cherry Hill Seminary: Pagan author, former Pagan Federation secretary, and Jungian psychologist Vivianne Crowley has joined the faculty of Cherry Hill Seminary, a distance education institution for professional Pagan ministry. In a recent news update sent to supporters of Cherry Hill, Crowley, the author of works like “Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World,” expressed excitement at joining CHS.

“I am excited about teaching for the first time Master’s level programmes with groups of Pagan students. I hope that the programmes that I teach at Cherry Hill will help students to deepen their understanding of religious practice and the dynamics that influence Pagan groups. Psychology of Religion is an important discipline for religious leaders and clergy of all faiths in understanding their own spiritual journey and that of those whom they serve, and the issues of Death and Dying are some of the most sensitive and important that we care called upon to deal with in our ministry.”

You can read more from Crowley about joining CHS, here. Vivianne Crowley will be teaching the class “Call of the Dark Mother” with Jennifer Bennett for the Fall semester. Congratulations to both Crowley and CHS!

The Rise of Óðrœrir: A new journal of interest to Pagans, particularly Heathen reconstructionists, has just launched. Óðrœrir” is “a fully downloadable journal dedicated to developing, fostering, and distributing scholastic literature solely regarding the reconstruction of the various pre-Christian religious traditions and cultures of Northern Europe.”

“It is our firm belief that while much of these traditions are completely viable in a modern setting, understanding and implementing them must be achieved through a thorough understanding of their original context.  We also believe that there is too much literature available that falls very short of this mark.  Thus,Óðrœrir is intended to serve as a bastion of literature that is evidence based and consistent with modern standards of academic accuracy and quality.  Articles are peer reviewed by a board ranging of individuals with over forty years of experience in reconstructing “heathen” traditions, to scholars who are currently leaders in the fields of Old Nordic Religion, and Old Nordic Culture.  It is our hope that with these high standards, and with the range of experience that exists on our board, that Óðrœrir will be able to bridge the gap between scholastic wisdom of ancient heathen traditions and the implementation and practice of ongoing ones today.”

The first issue is available for download now, featuring articles on the state of modern Heathenry, reconstructionism in modern Heathenry, Frankish Heathenry and more. You can also network with the creators at the journal’s Facebook page.

PNC-Minnesota Rolls Out Sacred Harvest Festival Coverage: The week-long Sacred Harvest Festival in Minnesota has just wrapped up, and PNC-Minnesota has begun posting personal reflections and reactions from attendees. However, my favorite thing so far from them is this picture of the founding coordinators of PNC-Minnesota: Heather Biedermann, Nels Linde, and Cara Schulz.

As a co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective, just knowing that there are a mixture of citizen and professional Pagan journalists starting to take an active interest in covering what happens in our community gives me hope for our collective future. Good job folks, this is only the beginning! Keep an eye on PNC-Minnesota for more Sacred Harvest Festival coverage rolling out this week.

Spirit of Albion Update: The upcoming independent film The Spirit of Albion, a story inspired by the music of Damh the Bard, has just posted its latest production diary.

You can follow Damh’s Bardic blog for updates, as well as the movie’s Facebook page.

Brendan Myers on Pagan Existentialism: Here at Patheos, Star Foster interviews author Brendan Myers about his most recent book “Loneliness and Revelation: A Study of the Sacred,” existentialism, and the value of suffering within modern Paganism.

“I think that any worldview that might deny, or ignore, the suffering and oppression in the world is profoundly immature and unrealistic. Thus if the pagan movement is a mature one, its question is not whether the acknowledgement of human suffering has value, but rather the question concerns what that value is. In the Christian worldview, the notion of Original Sin, and the crucifixion of Christ, put suffering at the very center of the Christian story. Christians, I am sure, would add that the resurrection is equally important. To this I would only comment that Pagans have a fine collection of dying and resurrecting gods who can act as our role models in our own struggles with the “negative.” Mithras, Osiris, Adonis, come to mind as examples, as well as any number of heroes who made an underworld journey, such as Inanna, Persephone, and Orpheus.”

For more on Myers’ work, check out the guest-post he did for this blog last year that touches on some of the same themes.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!